Breaking bad on Wall Street

Yeah, like everyone else in the early 2010s, I was addicted to Breaking Bad. It came at a turning point when we started evaluating the male ego in art and storytelling. Many bitch about this paradigm shift, but honestly it’s given me a fuckton of creative fuel to write my dumbass stories.

Without it, I wouldn’t have a writing career at all! So thanks Breaking Bad for all the digital trees I’ve wasted on the internet.

But as time has passed, it’s obvious that there were problems with the show. Now I try to evaluate art by the intentions of the artist. So what were the showrunners trying to do here?

https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/breaking-bad-creator-vince-gilligan-231701266.html

https://variety.com/2022/tv/news/breaking-bad-skyler-hate-vince-gilligan-1235347122/amp/

Apparently, creator Vince Gilligan didn’t know either. While I think everyone involved did their jobs in the most competent and effective way possible, in my opinion, there was a fundamental difference between Gilligan’s vision and Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of Walter White/Heisenberg.

I base this opinion on zero research, but hear me out…

I’m assuming, when the show was pitched, that the thrust behind the story was to watch the protagonist turn into the villain. At least this is what drew me into the show. But if that’s the case, we run into an age old Clark Kent/Superman problem.

Philosopher and film theorist Slavoj Zizek, while discussing The Joker, claimed that the real identity of a superhero IS the mask and the person beneath it is the alter ego. Or, in other words, the MASK is what permits us to be our true selves.

In that sense, Heisenberg-the “MASK”- is really what Walter White is. If Heisenberg was ever wearing a mask for a disguise, that mask was the man Walter White. Therefore, Walter White…or, more accurately, Heisenberg…was ALWAYS evil.

I’m glad all of that makes sense.

But the problem is Walter White doesn’t always ACT like the bad guy. In fact, he’s usually shown being a loving father and Jesse’s guardian. Sure, he poisons a child, watches a woman choke to death, etc etc. but Walter White…probably due to Cranston’s acting choices…seems to signal horror at some of his decisions. In fact, if memory serves, he shows a sigh of relief when he learns that the child WON’T die from the poisoning attempt.

He even begs for Hank’s life for fuck’s sake!

Would Gus Fring, Walter White’s arch nemesis, have done that?

Fuck no!

And therein lies the fundamental problem with Breaking Bad: the audience never severs its sympathy with Walter White. Nor, I would argue, were they ever encouraged to do so.

Was this a deliberate choice by the showrunners? Was Cranston too damn competent at his job? Did anyone think any of this through?

I don’t suppose that this undermines the quality of the show. It’s just annoying to consider while re-watching it. The show seems to fail at meeting its own objective.

In fact, this concept…displaying a totally deplorable character in the most engaging way possible…has been successfully done before. Perhaps you remember it: The Wolf of Wall Street.

To be fair though, Martin Scorsese has a knack for this kind of thing. In fact, the movie that put him on the map, Taxi Driver, does something similar. The audience is exposed to a deranged world of a protagonist, we even empathize with him to a certain degree, but we can’t ever imagine coming to his defense (as fans of Breaking Bad have done many times before with Walter White).

With the Wolf of Wall Street, Scorsese “let’s you in on the joke.” Jordan Belfort is an over-the-top nutcase, and Scorsese allows you to indulge in his depravity, but you know that the end will come crashing down at any moment.

Scorsese isn’t afraid to “pull the trigger”…or show you the moment when a protagonist looses his grip on reality.

While Walter White certainly had his over-the-top moments, the audience is never encouraged to lose sympathy for him. This is reinforced through the writing. White should have never of begged for Hank’s life, his relationship with Jesse should have been established as being purely manipulative and nothing more, his role as a father should have deteriorated, etc etc.

Perhaps that’s the limits of television. When you spend five or more seasons with a character, it’s hard NOT to have sympathy for them.

But it always felt as though Walter White never quite broke bad.

Jack hardcock: Christian detective- a quick aside

My motivation for completing this story about a right-wing, ex(and now anti)FBI agent in Ohio has been depleted after some presumed MAGA dude was killed after trying to infiltrate the Cincinnati FBI field office.

It kinda sucks the fun that I was trying to have with this.

I know you don’t give a shit, but I need to say this to get it off my chest: I am not trying to make a statement with this story. My position with this blog has always been anti-political. In fact, I will continue to argue that our current political environment is indistinguishable from religious dogma and I want no part of it.

Furthermore, if you champion people getting killed to make a political statement, you are a part of the problem. You can waste your life arguing about some imaginary supernatural or metaphysical force that you want imposed on the world, OR you can live your life, create art, fall in love, and make the best of the short time we have on this extraordinary planet.

As an aside, my two biggest influences for much of my writing is Paul Verhoeven and some guy in rehab that tried to explain the plot of Momma Mia! Verhoeven’s schtick, particularly with Starship Troopers, was to tell the story from a fascistic perspective while simultaneously letting the audience in on the joke.

That concept blew my mind, so I picked it up and ran with it.

I’m intrigued by the idea of giving an audience the illusion of truth, but in actuality there’s nothing behind the curtain. It’s all dick jokes and insanity.

This is probably why I was so taken with the film We Are The Flesh. The review that I linked to in my last post called the film “anti-art.” And that’s essentially what I’m doing here. And that’s the motivation behind all of my writing.

There’s nothing behind the curtain. So embrace the madness while you can.

Jack Hardcock will return…

“We are the flesh” broke my mind

So what if you came across some information about an alleged “horror” movie which featured unsimulated sex between two adult actors who were, by the way, playing siblings…AND this film happens to be on Tubi?

Would you go “nah I’m good?”

OR

Would you say “yup, that sounds right up my ally”?

Be honest now, God’s watching.

Unfortunately this movie hit me at the right time. Not because of the sibling fucking and rock hard penises (and some vagina) throughout, but because the film’s subject matter appears to be “truth” itself.

http://www.audienceseverywhere.net/we-are-the-flesh-is-a-work-of-near-brilliant-anti-art-depravity/

What’s We Are The Flesh about? I honestly don’t know. Click the link above if want to find out more. It’s a Mexican film. I didn’t watch it with subtitles on. And I don’t speak Spanish. 🤷‍♂️ Plus I’ve got a terrible memory.

Nevertheless, I think it got its point across, which makes it a success in my book.

As the review above stated, it will draw comparisons to other movies in the “shock film” genre, but it lacks a little less punch. That might come as a disappointment to horror film buffs, but I think this was done deliberately.

In fact, the movie concludes (if my memory is correct) with someone getting up from a completed orgy, leaving the set, and walking out onto a normal busy street.

I’m assuming that person was meant to be “us”…the audience…just getting up and leaving the theater then going about our normal day after watching an hour and 15 minutes worth of people fucking and occasionally killing/raping on a very claustrophobic set.

I don’t recall the violence being particularly brutal, at least compared to other films in this genre, but the sex, of course, was. At one point, we’re just staring at a bare vagina and anus and then a penis and ballsack.

Why?

I dunno.

But as the review pointed out, we’re being forced to ask ourselves if there’s any artistic merit to any of this.

“Sounds pretentious,” you might say. And I agree. But the film is slapping you across the face with this question…because you’re staring at a penis and vagina for a GOOD 30 seconds each…almost as if it’s a commentary on filmmaking itself!

When it comes to the finer philosophical points to the film, I’ll defer to the review, as it explains them in far better detail than I ever could. But this movie really did break my mind.

I’ve never seen any film…or any piece of art PERIOD (except for a piece of long fiction that I recently completed, which I might go into detail about at a later time)….say SO much while simultaneously saying absolutely NOTHING.

…much like how TRUTH itself operates.

who wrote the rules?!

I don’t know if I’m just bored sitting in class for the last two weeks, but something’s crawled up my ass and I just feel like arguing with people. On Instagram no less!

This time I’m arguing with stuck up Christians trying to present their arguments as some sort of academic debate because they think atheists are too dumb to understand their beliefs. Now don’t get your panties in a wad, these are just the people who are pissing me off RIGHT NOW. There’s no telling who I’ll argue with next week.

I’m a sophist at heart.

But if there’s one type of person I can’t stand, it’s the stuck up “I’m smarter than you cuz I read academic shit” guy. Fuck those people.

In fact, I say it’s your DUTY to pointlessly argue with these folks. They expect everything to be a structured debate and demand strangers online follow the rules.

But I will not. If I want to “straw man” you, use “non-sequiturs”, create false dichotomies, etc. I am well within my right to do so and there’s nothing you can do about it.

So Who the fuck are you? The “logical fallacies” police?

sum relaxing vids

Anxiety’s a buzzword.

We’ve all got it. We can’t get enough of it.

It’s probably due to the ungodly amount of caffeine, crushing debt, and the ever present threat of environmental catastrophe. But hey, at least it’s not the 70s, amirite?

To calm myself, I sometimes watch these videos:

Eating Marshmallows

ASMR doesn’t usually do it for me, but there’s something about this one. Is it the crunch? The whispering? The craving for chocolate covered marshmallows?

Who knows?

Some people just know how to eat marshmallows. 🤷‍♂️

Charlton Heston

Everything I’ve ever learned about philosophy, I’ve learned from Charlton Heston’s Giants of Philosophy series.

What did I learn?

That Immanuel Kant, David Hume, Plato, Aristotle, Baruch Spinoza, Soren Kierkegaard, and others were philosophers 😴

But I also learned that Mankind, despite being a bastard creation from God, can be a creative and colorful species.

Las Vegas getting blown the fuck up

No disrespect to the city of Las Vegas, I’m sure it’s a wonderful town. I just like seeing it get shredded to pieces.

Not sure why tho.

Maybe it makes me feel like God….like that time he leveled Sodom and Gomorrah to the ground.

Tornadoes

Speaking of God, if you want to feel his wrath, get close to a tornado.

“You call that relaxing?” you might ask.

What if I do?

Nuclear Explosions

“I have become Death, destroyer of worlds”

It wouldn’t be a bad death: getting vaporized under a gigantic fireball. But that’s what happens when man tries to play God.

So if the tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and rampant disease doesn’t kill us first, radioactive fallout rain certainly will.

I hope these videos will help you relax 🙏

according to Simon (part iii)

“What happened to your face?” Jacob asked as I met him at the Cyrene’s inn.

“I was attacked by one of Herod’s thugs,” I said. “They’re onto us. So watch who you talk to.”

“You didn’t tell him anything did you?”

“I told him I was a friend of Joseph’s. After that, he left me alone.”

“Shit,” Jacob said and rubbed his face. “Well good news is I met with Ananias and his wife Sapphira. Remember them?”

“The one’s from Rome?”

“Yeah. They sold some of their property in Judea. They gave the money to John to distribute to the widows outside of the city walls. It’s finally happening Simon!”

“Don’t let it get to your head!” I told him. “You still need to lie low.”

Just then a big burly fellow with six other men busted through the door. “Χαιρετίσματα Jacob,” the booming voice said.

“Hello Stephanos.”

“You’re Stephanos?!” I exclaimed.

Stephanos looked over to me and back over to Jacob. “Who’s dis?” the man asked in his Greek accent.

“Relax, he’s Simon,” Jacob replied. “He was a good friend of Yeshua’s.”

Stephanos looked me up and down. “I heard you were arrested,” he said to me.

“No, it must have been another Simon,” I replied. “I’m from Bethsaida.”

Stephanos was confused. He looked back to Jacob. “I was told that Ananias gave you money. Our women and children are starving too-“

“Now Stephanos,” Jacob interrupted, “I know where you’re going with this. But Ananias was very clear: he wanted us to use this money to help the widows of Jerusalem.”

“Because we’re Greeks we’re not as important as the Hebrews?”

“I didn’t say that. Please listen to me. I’m only respecting Ananias’ wishes.”

Stephanos was furious. “We’ve been in the streets for days while you Hebrews have been coward up in your homes! Do you support us or not?!”

“Of course I support you!” Jacob yelled then took a deep breath. “I get how you feel, Stephanos, I really do. But you gotta understand our situation. Herod and Pilate aren’t too concerned with the Greeks right now. But they are after us. We can’t be out in the streets and we don’t have the money to spread around to everyone. I’m sorry. But Ananias is a very successful man from Rome and a diaspora Jew just like yourself. If you go to him and explain your situation, he can probably provide you with some assistance.”

Stephanos stood silent for a moment then muttered something in Greek. He walked up to Jacob. “μη με σταυρώνεις,” he said. Then him and his six men left the room.

“You should’ve stayed away from him Jacob,” I said.

“I know.”

“And Stephanos is a convert. To Ananias, he’s still a Gentile. He’s not giving him the money.”

Jacob began rubbing his temples. “I need a drink,” he said.

We went down to the tavern where Levi was scribbling something down. “What are you doing?” Jacob asked him.

“The Greeks wanted something to tell the people back in the Decapolis. Something about Yeshua.”

I looked over the writing. He didn’t write much but it was all in Greek. I couldn’t understand a word of it. Jacob was puzzled. “Where did you learn to write Greek?”

“In school, here in Jerusalem” Levi replied, “I had to learn it along with Hebrew.”

“Maybe we should drop the subject of Greeks for the time being,” I said.

We sat silently drinking our wine for a few minutes. There was a commotion on the streets. Andrew came running up. “They’re about to stone some of the Greeks!” he screamed.

Jacob and Levi instantly got up. “Aren’t you coming along?” Jacob asked me. Against my better judgment, I put down the wine cup and followed them.

A few blocks away, a crowd was gathering. Some were shouting. Others gawked out of morbid curiosity. Moments later, Temple guards began dragging out seven Greeks. One of them was Stephanos.

Behind them followed a few members of the Sanhedrin, including Joseph. Standing beside him was Ananias.

“Thief! Thief!” Ananias shouted. “These men conspired with Yeshua to rob the Temple and overthrow the Romans!”

My heart began to sink. This was a setup.

The guards threw the Greeks in front of Herod’s black-cloaked mercenaries who had their spears ready. Meanwhile, the Roman guards stood back smiling at the whole affair.

A judge from the Sanhedrin stood among the crowd and faced the accused. “Conspiracy, sedition, robbery of Ananias,” the judge said, “are these accusations true?”

It didn’t matter what Stephanos said. And he knew it. From his knees, he laughed and looked at the crowd. “You stiff-necked people,” he said, “your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him—”

“God help you,” the judge said.

With those words, the mercenaries plunged their spears into the bellies of the Greeks. A pool of blood formed in the middle of the crowd.

Levi screamed in horror and ran away.

But the crowd was just getting warmed up. They picked up stones or any disposable object and began hurling them towards Stephanos. He got bruised and battered and knocked in the head a few times but kept crawling forward.

Among the mercenaries, I recognized a familiar face: The scars….the scabs…the wiry frame. It was him alright. It was the man that attacked me a few days earlier.

And Stephanos kept crawling towards this man as the stones were raining down on him. When he reached his feet, Stephanos grabbed the man’s cloak and got to his knees.

I was too far away to hear anything, but Stephanos was clearly saying something to this man. Judging by his face, the figure was stunned by what was being said. But before the figure could react, a member of the crowd smashed a rock into Stephanos’ skull.

The man in the black cloak stood back with blood and brain matter splattered all over his face. He was in a daze.

Before the crowd could mutilate the bodies, Joseph stepped in to quiet them. That’s enough!” he yelled. “The perpetrators of the Passover sedition have been caught and punished! This matter is closed! Please return to your homes!” As the crowds dispersed, the Temple guards started dragging the bodies outside of the city walls.

Jacob and I returned to the inn in silence. We didn’t know what to make of what just happened. “Do we leave Jerusalem?” Jacob asked.

“Why?” I replied. “It looks like Joseph and Ananias took care of our problem.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

according to Simon (part II)

“Simon saw Yeshua come back from the dead!” Andrew said.

“I didn’t see Yeshua!” I replied. “How did you get to be so stupid?”

Andrew and I were meeting with Jacob and Levi at the Cyrene’s tavern after returning to Jerusalem. “What did you see?” Levi asked me.

“Look,” I said, completely ignoring his question, “I only came back to Jerusalem to bring Jacob back to Galilee. I already got Yeshua killed, I can’t let the same thing happen to his brother.”

“I’m not going back,” Jacob said.

“Why not?”

“This might come as a surprise to you Simon, but people actually believe the Message. You thought the Romans could never be driven out of Judea, but everyone took notice of Yeshua. Including the Greeks!”

“The Greeks? We were only in Scythopolis for a few days. We barely spoke Greek!”

“Yeshua made quite an impression on them.”

“Yeah, they’re saying that he did all kind of shit,” Levi said, “healing the blind, casting out demons and sending them into pigs, making the lame walk…”

“Are you sure they’re not confusing him with one of the thousands of other lunatics that wonder around the Decapolis?”

“I’m telling ya Simon,” Jacob exclaimed, “these Greeks have some goddamned imagination. They think he’s some wandering miracle worker! There is some guy named Stephanos who followed us all the way from Scythopolis. He’s been screaming in the streets! He’s pissed about the crucifixion!”

“You guys didn’t talk to him, right?”

“Well…”

Right then, Mary walked into the tavern. She had the look of death on her face.

“What’s wrong?” Jacob asked.

“He’s gone.”

***

All of us ventured outside of the city walls to Joseph’s tomb near the Mount of Olives. The women were weeping. I walked inside the tomb and Yeshua’s body wasn’t there.

“The Greeks?” I asked Jacob.

“How would they have known where his body was?”

Joseph was stomping down the hill up ahead. I looked over to Jacob. “Let me handle this,” I said.

Joseph was only a few yards away when he started yelling. “You guys have been an epic pain in my ass!”

“Now Joseph, calm down,” I said. “I’m only here to collect Jacob and bring him back to Galilee. I swear. I’m not here to cause trouble.”

“Like hell! All the Jews are gone but now the streets are crawling with Greeks! Ever since Passover ended, they’ve been piling into the city!”

“I know, but we have nothing to do with that.”

“Bullshit! This idiot here…” Joseph cried, referring to Jacob, “has been seen screaming on the streets with that lunatic Stephanos. And now all of you are grave robbing!”

I shook my head as I looked over to Jacob. “Joseph, we didn’t take Yeshua’s body. Mary came here this morning and it was gone. As for the Greeks, I don’t know what to tell you. We’ll leave Jerusalem and maybe this will all blow over in a few weeks.”

“Too late. They’ve been threatening the Sadducees and Pharisees because apparently, Yeshua was railing against them in Scythopolis! I know you were there Simon. So this IS your fault!”

Damn it, I thought. I looked over to Jacob. “This has gotten out of hand. We’re leaving.”

“If all of you are leaving, you better do it quick. The Sanhedrin wants this fire put out now! Herod is bringing in mercenaries from all over the empire. A few of them might be here now. You’re probably as good as dead,” Joseph said.

“Then that means you too,” I told him. “You’re as guilty as the rest of us.”

Jacob spoke up. “It doesn’t matter where we go. Do none of you see what’s going on here? The moment Yeshua spoke against the Romans and their collaborators, we had a target on our backs. We knew the risks. And we accepted them. Because look around you: lepers, beggars, widows, children sleeping on the streets. We can’t continue to live like this. Even the Greeks agree! Yes Yeshua is dead, but that doesn’t mean the Kingdom of God is dead too. We continue to fight for it or we die in the streets.”

Joseph was silent.

“It’s time for you to take a stand Joseph,” Jacob continued. “You’re either with us or you’re with Herod.”

Joseph looked down to the ground and thought for a moment. “I have no love for the Romans,” Joseph said, “but I want no more bloodshed. So I ask all of you: stay away from the Gentiles. They aren’t our problem. Let them take the fall for this Yeshua situation. If you can do this, I can keep the Sanhedrin off your scent.”

“But Joseph,” Jacob replied, “a lot of them are Jewish converts. We’re in this together.”

“Listen to me Jacob: stay away from them. And please, for the love of God, lay low!”

With those words, Joseph walked away. Jacob was beside himself. “What does he expect us to do?” he said to me, “we can’t just wish the Romans away!”

I put my hands on his shoulders to calm him down. “Jacob, he may be onto something,” I said. “Let’s face it: we don’t have the power to get the Romans out of Judea just yet. Our only choice is to play the long game. Alright? Now you might be safe in Jerusalem for the time being, but you’re gonna have to live to fight another day. Also, keep quiet about being Yeshua’s brother. Okay?”

Jacob nodded. “Are you going back to Galilee?” he asked.

I smiled. “No. I gotta keep you out of trouble,” I replied.

All of us went back into the city walls individually. As I was returning to the Cyrene’s tavern, a strange man in a black cloak pulled me into an alley and put a dagger to my throat.

“I got money in my satchel,” I said to him.

“I don’t want your money!” the man replied. He was a short, wiry figure with rashes and scabs all over his face. “I recognize you!”

“Well I don’t recognize you.”

“Don’t play with me! I saw you with that man in Caesarea.”

“What man?”

“Yeshua you fool!”

“Who?”

He punched me in the stomach and I fell to the ground. “Why are you in Jerusalem?” the figure asked.

“I’m just a fisherman. I’m here in town because of Passover. I’m leaving tomorrow, I swear!” I said as I was gasping for air.

“Liar!”

“Why would I lie about that?!”

He kicked me in the face and I fell flat on the ground. The man continued his interrogation.

“Who do you know here?”

I crawled back to my knees. “Joseph, alright! He’s from Arimathea! He’s on the Jerusalem Council!”

“Can you confirm that?”

“We can go talk to him now!”

The man put his dagger back into his cloak and he helped me off the ground. He also dusted me off. “I’m sorry about the confusion,” he said. “There’s a lot of insurrectionists around. They always cause trouble around Passover. Can never be too safe, ya know?”

I wiped the blood from my mouth. “Indeed.”

“Alright, well you take care now,” the man said.

He walked up to the edge of the alley, looked to his left and right, and disappeared back into the city streets.

TO BE CONTINUED…

anouncement (and thoughts on writing)

Hate to toot my own horn but 2051: A Space Monstrosity turned out much better than I thought it would. I also wrote a lot more than I intended.

It’s not perfect. Far from it. And I blatantly ripped off lines from various Star Trek productions, almost verbatim, because I’m a shameless hack.

But I’m getting closer to being able to tell stories the way I want to: where I create a plot on the fly by establishing a rhythm and hitting the story beats. If you do a few setups and meet the payoffs in any ridiculous way you can, BAM…you have yourself a story.

Maybe not a GOOD story, but a story nonetheless.

My method is akin to Bill Walsh’s “West Coast Offense” in football: where players lack in athletic ability (or, in my case, artistic genius), you can make up for in precision and timing.

This runs entirely contrary to the way my high school teacher tried to teach me. It was his belief that that the secret to writing was in rewriting.

The problem I found with this practice is that my interest always waned and the magic was gone. Editing and proofreading is necessary of course, but frankly it’s boring and if I spend too much time on it, I end up hating everything about the piece itself.

It is my belief that art works best when it exists in the moment….when the artist can, however briefly, be completely honest with themselves.

So I’ve written a lot to get the practice in. And most of the stories are in fragmented pieces. Therefore I created a separate page to compile all these short stories.

…that is, once when I figure out how to get the page up on the website. Right now it looks like shit. I dunno 🤷‍♂️

I’ll get it figured out.

That is all.

2051: a space monstrosity (part ix)-conclusion

“Hey God, God Alliance, the Holy Divers…whatever the fuck you call yourselves…come get your boy!” I radioed to the new energy source on radar.

Yah jammed the transmission. “Captain, you have fucked me over for the last time,” he said over the intercom. “You will never escape me. I’ll chase you around the moons of Nibia and around the Antares Maelstrom and around perdition’s flames before I give you up!”

“Suck my limp dick!” I replied.

The energy source pursuing Yah was gaining on him. And with his final act, Yah tail whipped the rear of the Sagan, causing the ship to spin out of control.

“Fire the braking thrusters!” I ordered Valdez.

“Thrusters are having no effect!”

I radioed down to engineering. “Nia, more power to the brakes!”

“Sir,” she replied, “breaking thrusters were destroyed in the last hit! There’s a coolant leak in engineering. I’m diverting power to both the lift and main thrusters. That will stop the spinning, but we will be unable to stop in forward motion!”

“Captain, we’re hurdling towards a massive object ahead. 50,000km and closing,” Dr. Jackass said.

“Valdez! Give it some gas!” I yelled.

Valdez floored it. We were seconds away from crashing into a large meteor in front of us. The Sagan got caught in the object’s orbit and we spun around it a few times until we broke free.

The ship was now on a straight path, but we were still traveling at light speed. “We dodged that bullet,” The Doctor said, “but it’s only a matter of time before we collide with another object!”

I called back down to engineering. “Nia, can you stop the engines?”

“Not at this speed sir!” she replied. “And with our coolant depleted, I am unable to ramp them down. We will continue to increase speed until the engines burn out, but there will be no way of stopping the ship!”

We were now traveling at 1.5 times the speed of light and increasing. It was the fastest that humanity had ever achieved. But it was going to cost the lives of my crew.

Valdez and Jackass looked to me for answers. I had none.

I went over the intercom.

“Attention crew of the Sagan,”I said, “it has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your captain. All of you are fine officers. You have achieved only what others have dreamt. Let’s just hope history never forgets the name: The USV Carl Sagan.

I leaned back in the seat and closed my eyes. Vibration began increasing.

Then there was a miracle.

“Sir!” Valdez yelled. “Speed is decreasing!”

I opened my eyes. The universe was no longer speeding past us. Finally, the Sagan reached a full stop.

“What the hell happened?” I asked.

There was a voice behind me. “I stopped this piece of shit from flying apart, that’s what happened,” it said.

I turned around and there was a Jack Lemmon-looking asshole dressed in white robes standing on the bridge.

“Who are you?” I said to the strange man.

“God, dumbass!”

“You’re God?! I thought Yah was God!”

“No moron! Yah’s that damn Deceiver fella mentioned in that book of yours, the uhh…,” God started snapping his fingers to jog his memory.

“The Bible?” I said

“The Bible! That’s it! He had this cockamamie idea that he could come to Earth and establish a kingdom for himself or some stupid crap. I dunno. We stopped him and thought that he should be a prisoner to YOU guys because he tortured all of you for so long. Clearly that didn’t work out. So now we’re gonna have to find some other way to punish Yah. That guy’s fucking nuts!”

“So are you the ONLY God?”

“I’m the only one NAMED God, if that’s what you mean. But no, there’s a lot more like me.”

“What do you guys DO?”

“Hey! You stay out of our affairs and we’ll stay out of yours PAL!”

“But Earth needs your help.”

“Let me tell you something: no they don’t. You think that because we’re “gods” that we don’t know what it’s like to be you guys? Guess what? We were like you humans at one time. Humanity can climb out of this mess and come back stronger than ever. You know what? I believe in YOU. How do you like that irony?”

“Can you at least help the Ishnarians?”

“Yeah yeah, I’ll go back to Ishnar. I’m used to cleaning up Yah’s shit.”

“I have just one more favor to ask.”

“What do you want now?”

“Can you send us back to Earth? The ship’s kinda broken.”

“Look, I’m not allowed to break the laws of time. Earth’s kinda a shithole right now. Don’t worry though, there’s still people there but they’re all living underground. How bout I put you back in your hibernation chambers and by the time you reach Earth, radiation levels will be back to normal. Sound like a deal?”

“Thanks God.”

“Alright, sweet dreams.” Then God snapped his fingers again.

Many decades later…

The Sagan was orbiting Earth. Tranquility Bay was abandoned and uninhabitable. I made the decision to land on the surface.

“Radiation levels have stabilized, Captain,” Dr. Jackass said.

“Thank you Doctor.” From the bridge, I looked out through the view screen, down to the big blue marble below. “Should we attempt communication?” I asked.

“There doesn’t appear to be any technology to receive it,” the Doctor replied.

“We really are back to the stone ages then,” I said. “I’ll be down in engineering.”

I met with Commander Mwangi at her station. “How’s the landing gear?” I asked.

“All systems are functioning normally, sir,” she replied. But she wouldn’t look at me.

“Is everything alright Commander?”

Mwangi stood up from her desk and turned her face towards me. “You took a big gamble Captain,” she said. “You risked the safety of the entire crew.”

“I ain’t apologizing for getting into a stare down with the devil and winning,” I replied.

“We could’ve been killed!”

“I couldn’t allow you to live in sexual slavery!”

Mwangi sucker punched me right in the face. As I stood in a daze, she grabbed my head and kissed me passionately. “You are one stupid, STUPID son of a bitch,” she said, “but I thank you for it.” She rubbed her body against mine as she sidestepped her way back to work.

I had no idea what just happened. But I liked it.

I returned to the bridge and patted Valdez on the shoulder. “I never congratulated you on your pregnancy. Congratulations Commander,” I told her.

“Thank you, sir.”

“Are you ready to raise this child in a brave new world?”

She smiled. “Yes sir.”

I smiled back.

“Prepare for landing.”

THE END

2051: a space monstrosity (part viii)

“We are going home,” I announced to the crew onboard the Sagan. “To repair the ship, we’ll need Yah’s help. He’s being brought to the surface as we speak. His chamber will be stored in the cargo area, where Dr. Jackass will release him. We cannot get too close to Yah. He’s highly radioactive, but the Doctor will be equipped with a radiation absorber that I stole from the Ishnarians. You are ordered to remain out of the cargo bay. The Doctor will ask Yah to remain a safe distance from the crew.”

“If he’s God,” Patel asked, “can’t he make more radiation absorbers?”

“Good question Patel,” I replied, “but let’s not overthink this. Yah is not a supernatural being. He is made of real matter and is bound by gravity. That’s why he needs a spaceship to get off this planet. Additionally, it should be noted that Yah can read minds. But it appears that he can only do so at a certain distance. Perhaps up to 60 feet. If possible, stay 60 feet away from the cargo area. I can’t go into any more details, but when I order everyone to be at their stations, you will have 30 seconds to get there. Am I understood?”

“Yes sir!”

“Good. Begin preparations for launch.”

I exited the Sagan to meet with Hazov. Off in the distance, Yah’s chamber was being wheeled towards the ship.

“It’s a shame that you are unable to stay,” Hazov said, “hopefully this is the beginning of a fruitful relationship between our two worlds.”

“Possibly,” I said.

“If you don’t mind me prying, Captain, I thought your ship was having trouble launching.”

I smiled. “Someone forgot to carry the 1.”

“I see,” he said. “Farewell Captain.”

“Farewell Hazov.”

We shook hands and I immediately went to engineering to speak with Commander Mwangi. “Commander, once when you see that the hydrogen drive is back online, fire it up immediately,” I told her.

“But Captain, with lift thrusters firing we’ll be moving at a tremendous speed. We risk burning the hydrogen drive out again.”

“Just do it.”

I went to the bridge and strapped into the navigation station next to Valdez. “What’s the fastest you’ve ever flown a ship?” I asked her.

“About 1/8th the speed of light sir.”

“Prepare to shatter that record.”

The Doctor then came over the intercom. “The chamber is loaded sir,” he said.

“Close cargo bay doors and release Yah from the chamber,” I ordered.

Yah spoke up. “Thank you for releasing me from my chains, Captain,” he said.

“Don’t mention it.”

I monitored controls from the command post. Moments later, Valdez spoke up. “Lift thrusters are online sir!”

“Launch thrusters!”

The Sagan began lifting off the surface and into the atmosphere. I channeled down to engineering. “How’s that hydrogen drive coming along, Nia?!”

“Hydrogen drive is fully operational!”

Then a deeply distraught Hazov came over the radio. “Captain Kananga! Our planet is facing a torrent of earthquakes and tornadoes! We are dying! What have you done?!”

I radioed down to the cargo bay. “Yah! Unleashing the apocalypse on Ishnar wasn’t part of the deal!”

“Sorry Captain,” Yah replied. “The people of Ishnar have broken the covenant. They shall face my wrath.”

Now Yah was about to face my wrath, I thought. “I see,” I responded to Yah. “Dr. Jackass, please report to the bridge.”

I looked over to Valdez. “Have we cleared the atmosphere?” I asked.

“Yes sir, we are about to leave the outer orbit of Ishnar’s moons.”

“Good. Hopefully we can put enough distance between Yah and Ishnar.”

Moments later, Dr. Jackass entered the bridge. “Doctor,” I said, “on my count, open the cargo bay doors.

“Sir?”

I went over the intercom. “Attention crew: please be at your stations,” I ordered, then activated life support systems on all decks.

After 30 seconds expired, I looked back over to Valdez. “Alright Commander, step on it!”

“Excuse me?”

“Damn it Valdez! FLOOR IT!”

As we accelerated to an extraordinary speed, I ordered Dr. Jackass to open cargo doors. Centrifugal systems instantly cut out and we were floating at zero-g.

“Sir!” the Doctor yelled, “all contents in the cargo bay have been suctioned out! Including Yah! Closing doors now!”

As the gravity was being restored, I looked up at the radar. An energy source outside the ship was keeping pace. “Damn it! Yah is on our tail! More speed!”

“But we’re traveling near the speed of light!” Valdez replied.

“Can God go faster than light?!” Dr. Jackass asked.

“I guess we’ll find out!”

The ship began to rattle back and forth. We were under attack. Using his god-like power, Yah came over the intercom. “Is this how you want this to end Captain?” he asked. “Empty space makes a cold grave.”

“Faster Valdez!” I ordered.

“She’ll fly apart Captain!”

“Fly her apart then!”

Alarms and buzzers were going off across the bridge. The vibration intensified. If we were going to die, we were going to die going the speed of light.

Then I looked up at the radar. Another energy source was was gaining on Yah.

The calvary had arrived…

TO BE CONTINUED.